Lately, I’ve been looking to the end of the year and anticipating the completion of my year of following a vegan diet. People have asked me if I will continue to eat this way or if I will celebrate 2023 with a cheeseburger and fries. Some days, that cheese burger sounds pretty great… and other days it makes me squeamish. See, I think that some of my thoughts and feelings about feeding off of animals have changed… but all of my taste buds haven’t, necessarily. I love the taste of long-smoked, tender BBQ brisket. The thought of eating eggs (chicken fetuses in the making) grosses me out. There’s nothing like a warm beef or lamb stew with a cloud of whipped potatoes on a cold winter night. And, drinking cow’s milk, knowing that calves are separated from their mothers at birth so the lactating moms can benefit the dairy industry and feed us instead of their babies- makes me sad.
I am not sure what the health benefits are that I have enjoyed in these 10 months of eating a vegan diet. I already had low blood pressure and a low, steady heart rate. My weight has increased in the last 10 months, but that has more to do with the summer’s gin&tonics and “vacation abandon” than the vegan lifestyle. I have been eating more carbs than are good for me, but that’s always been my Achilles heel. (who doesn’t love bread, rice, pasta, couscous and bread? Oh, bread, too…Did I mention bread? Homemade bread with butter, French bread, whole grain bread, oatmeal bread, pita bread, naan, brioche, sourdough…etc ). My energy is really good, but.. it always has been. My sleeping is great… but, I’ve always been a good sleeper. My skin is the same, not better or worse. I don’t have a super-vegan “glow” about me, but I don’t think I look pallid, either.
What have I missed?
And some of the long-simmered, homey, comfort foods that I love to prepare and eat: chicken pot pie (the “real” kind, with a crust), pot roast, apple pie (crust made with butter).
I have missed all sorts of shellfish that we usually eat in the summer like clams and mussels and oysters, fresh haddock with buttery breadcrumbs on top.
And, I’ve missed some “fun foods” that just aren’t as good in their vegan equivalents- like pizza and ice cream.
There is NO good vegan cheese. None.
I have enjoyed some great meals in these past 10 months and the creativity in vegan cooking- even with its limited options- is exciting. I’ve done a lot of “ethnic cooking”: Indian, Middle Eastern, Thai, Japanese, some African stews… there’s so much wonderful vegan food that comes from outside the American diet. We’ve always enjoyed cooking and eating from around the globe, but in this year, I’ve been leaning more towards Indian and Asian cuisines.
So, there’s no plan yet- for 2023. And maybe we’ll just see what evolves without any strict rules about what we will or will not eat.
The environmental and ethical reasons for following a vegan diet echo in my mind and are persuasive. The supposed health benefits of following a vegan diet (better blood work, lower weight, etc) are probably a good idea for someone in their mid- 60s. And I need to remind myself of these things when that idea of a plate of brisket looms in front of me.
So, we’ll see. I don’t think that it’ll be meat, veg and starch X3 meals/day beginning on Jan 1. I don’t see many sausage egg and cheese biscuits in my future. But a bowl of real ice cream? A wedge of sharp cheddar? Linguine with clam sauce and some grated parmegiano reggiano? yum.
More later on this, no doubt.